Lone workers and those in an ATEX environment need reliable communication tools but procuring the right solution isn't straightforward, says Klaus Allion.
Choosing the right smartphone for a business' communication needs is not so simple. Smartphone purchases are often based on emotion rather than logic because when it comes to the latest technology people frequently go for their preferred personal option. However, when applying this technology to business environments, that's not the smartest route to follow.
Instead, businesses need to analyse the available options that solve unique challenges, from operating systems (OS) to format and functionality.
Make the right choice
The familiarity and perceived low overall cost of smartphones make them an attractive option.
But businesses frequently overlook key functionalities that can take the standard smartphone technology to the next level by augmenting it into a multifunctional tool that unites several aspects into a single device to help a business to manage its alarms, communicate with colleagues and keep them safe.
Simply buying the cheapest, most basic smartphones could spell disaster - with unnecessary features still enabled, such as access to social media or a lack of compatibility with certain safety apps, employers are risking the safety of staff through distraction or a complicated setup.
Once a business has determined that a smartphone is the best device to meet their needs, they must look to integrate it into other areas of the business. For instance, teams operating in ATEX environments require a smartphone that is safe and may also need a device that can withstand being dropped or can be used by multiple shift operatives with a hot swappable battery.
It's not just about the physical handset either, smartphones can be more than phones - they can be turned into streamlined safety devices as well as primary communication tools.
By combining device functionalities in this way, employers can reduce the number of technology products employees have to learn and carry, and create the most efficient approach to employee wellbeing, offering savings in training, technology purchases and maintenance.
Smartphones that have been adapted can also be used as lone worker devices and be optimised to enable features such as push-to-talk technology. They enable rapid response teams to find lone workers through real-time maps and provide easy troubleshooting capabilities for engineers.
There are even apps available that disable certain mobile phone functions to help those long-haul delivery drivers to maintain their focus, for example. This is important as statistics from the British Security Industry Association show that employees such as delivery and HGV drivers face the greatest levels of risk.
However, not all these apps are available on Android and IOS, which means that unless businesses do the proper research, they may end up with the wrong device.
Remember to include key features
The internet makes it easy to compare the specifications of individual smartphones but key features can easily be overlooked.
For example, in manufacturing environments or ATEX zones, smartphone compliance with regulations or functionality to press a button to raise an immediate alarm - even if the phone is locked - are essential. Phones need to be equipped to deal with every potential scenario.
Choosing a device with smart integrated lone worker functionality means devices can be equipped with panic buttons, tilt and no-motion sensors as well as impact alarms. So when a driver is parked in a lay-by or an estate, for example, and is more susceptible to an attack or robbery, alarms can be activated, which will then alert the appropriate response teams to provide the necessary support as quickly as possible.
These features can save significant costs - in both financial and human terms.
Klaus Allion is managing director at ANT Telecom